A new alliance has been formed to boost the voice to return train services in the Northern Tablelands.
What were once scattered groups across our region is now a collective ready to make some noise.
“Over the last three or four years there have been a number of groups meeting concerned about the future of the main railway line north of Armidale and going all the way up to Queensland,” said Matthew Tierney, Interim President Trains North Incorporated
“There was the group ‘Save the Great Northern Rail Limited’, others have been meeting informally as the ‘Northern Railway Defenders Forum’, but we decided it was time to form a formalised incorporated association that could spread its influence all the way along the line, from Tamworth to Queensland and that is what we have done.”
“We are now Trains North Incorporated.”
By going incorporated the group aims to increase communication opportunities with all levels of Government and raise their public profile.
“It has been pretty clear to us that the last few years, as we have looked at proposals to destroy parts of the railway line and turn it into something else, that majority of the opinion in the community is in favour of keeping it, to get it working again and we wanted to give a voice to that, that could extend along through the whole of the Northern Tablelands region,” Mr Tierney said.
Trains North Inc will host their inaugural general meeting this Tuesday, 27th June, at 7pm at the old Masonic Hall at 147 Faulkner streets, on the corner with Barney Street, where they will elect their official committee as well as providing a Q and A forum for attendees.
Membership numbers are on the rise with an initial 30 registered people, but the group is confident more are on the way.
“As far as people who have been signing our petitions, we have somewhere between hundreds and thousands, they’re the people we are reaching out to, and there are people who are forming groups in Glen Innes and Tenterfield who we want to get to formally become members of Trains North,” Mr Tierney said.
This railways campaign isn’t new to Armidale residents, who have a special history in proving not all decisions are set in stone.
“It was a while ago now that Armidale lost its passenger train services completely for three and a half years, between 1990-1993, but when Armidale got those trains back again in November 1993, after an important campaign.”
“It was the first time that regional passenger train services have ever been restored on a country line, from which they had been completely withdrawn,” Mr Tierney said.
“So that is something very special Armidale achieved, and then again in 2003 when another Government threatened to remove the train service from Armidale there was a rally of about 3000 people at Armidale Railway Station.”
“They have kept the trains running to Armidale ever since, and they are growing in popularity and are increasingly well used.”
Trains North Inc. will continue to lobby for action as long as there remains a community need.
“We think we are building on a very good foundation to look to the future of the line north of Armidale, so that Tamworth and Armidale can again have services running through to QLD and Brisbane eventually,” Mr Tierney said.
“We think we are doing the best we can for the communities at Glen Innes and Tenterfield and all the towns up the Northern Tablelands who have been left in the transport wilderness for the last few years that really need freight and passenger train services back again.”
Mr Tierney is inviting everyone across the New England to experience the railways for themselves.
“For those who feel unfamiliar with the railway line to Armidale, or uncertain about the role it has to play and who hasn’t used the train for many years, I would encourage them to go and buy a ticket and give it a try,” he said.
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